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Ep 385: Aligning Talent Acquisition & Talent Management

Ep 385 Recruiting Future0

As external talent markets get ever more challenging, internal mobility is becoming a more significant issue. Unsurprisingly then, one of the major themes of the past year has been the ever closer relationship between talent acquisition and talent management.

So how are the most innovative companies holistically looking at talent acquisition and talent management, and how is technology helping them.

My guest this week is Lisa Niesen, Head of Talent Management Solutions at SHL. Lisa has been doing a lot of work at the intersection of talent acquisition and talent management and has some valuable insights to share.

In the interview, we discuss:

• What effect are challenging external talent markets having on talent management?

• The growing importance of retention and mobility

• Career paths and development opportunities to keep people engaged

• Rethinking traditional career structures

• The role of assessment and technology

• Gathering insights on skills

• Being better with data

• Advice on bringing talent acquisition and talent management together within the organisation

• What does the future look like?

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Interview transcript:

SHL (Ad) (0s):
Support for this podcast is provided by SHL. From talent acquisition through to talent management, SHL’s science and technology maximize the potential of your greatest asset, your people. SHL helps you create a diverse, agile, and innovative workforce you need to succeed in an unpredictable environment. Their data-driven people insights, unmatched portfolio of products, engaging experiences built on science, and global expert services are all delivered on one platform for all your people answers. Visit to learn more about how SHL can unlock the potential of your workforce.

Matt Alder (1m 7s):
Hi, everyone. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to episode 385 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. As external talent markets get ever more challenging, internal mobility is becoming a more significant issue. Unsurprisingly then, one of the major themes of the past year has been the ever-closer relationship between talent acquisition and talent management. How are the most innovative companies holistically looking at talent acquisition and talent management? How is technology helping them? My guest this week is Lisa Niesen, Head of Talent Management Solutions at SHL.

Matt Alder (1m 47s):
Lisa has been doing a lot of work at the intersection of talent acquisition and talent management and has some valuable insights to share. Well, an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?

Lisa Niesen (2m 3s):
Sure. My name is Lisa Niesen. I am the Head of Talent Management Solutions at SHL. I have been only in that role going on four months now, but I’ve spent the last 10 years really in the talent space and talent management space, more specifically, building out really the solutions that meet the market need in terms of the talent management issues that clients are dealing with. I have joined SHL to help them focus more specifically on the great opportunity within talent management, especially in this market now where it has become such a focus for companies.

Matt Alder (2m 52s):
Absolutely. I think that’s so interesting because certainly, in the conversations that I’ve been having, both on the podcast and also outside of the podcast over the last 18 months, the relationship between talent acquisition, talent management, and looking at our talent in a much more holistic way, I don’t think it’s ever been higher on the agenda than it is right now, because of the talent markets were experiencing and also all of the stuff that’s come out of the pandemic. It’s really interesting to be able to have this conversation with you right now. Talk us through your view on the connection between Talent Acquisition and Talent Management.

Lisa Niesen (3m 34s):
Sure. I think there’s so much focus right now on talent acquisition. Candidate shortage, we are hearing it daily in the international news. Companies can’t fill roles and candidates are in the driver’s seat in terms of being acquired and getting new roles in companies. There’s so much attention on that, but I think what people are neglecting to talk about as much is the importance of nurturing the employees once they are a part of an organization.

Lisa Niesen (4m 18s):
I think it’s really hard to separate thinking of the people you’re acquiring, so talent acquisition, from talent management. You should always be bringing people into the organization with a lens to how you’re going to nurture them going forward, right? It doesn’t stop once you get them in the door. Companies spend a lot of time making sure that candidate experience is great. The onboarding experience is great. How we get you in your role, introduce you to the organization, and plug you in. A lot of companies forget that there’s a continuation there and even more so now.

Lisa Niesen (5m 3s):
You’ve invested a great deal in getting folks into your company. We have to make sure we’re nurturing them and continuing that growth and that development along the way. Bringing people in that you see have a clear fit to a broader place within the company is only going to serve the company and those people much better.

Matt Alder (5m 31s):
Absolutely. What are the effects that you’re seeing on Talent Management from the crazy market that we’re in, in terms of salaries, in terms of hiring people with potential, all the things that are going on? What are you seeing as the main effects?

Lisa Niesen (5m 52s):
Sure. Well, we all know that it’s much more costly to replace somebody than it is to retain them. The cost going into acquiring a new employee is much higher. I think what we’re seeing across the board is that people coming into an organization are demanding and getting a much higher salary than people within the company in those same roles. I think it’s a really tricky balance to manage that and make sure that you’re not placing all of your eggs in the basket of the people coming in, right?

Lisa Niesen (6m 36s):
How do we look at the population in those critical roles and make sure that we are paying those people in a way that’s going to keep them there, because we know that there’s a lot of companies where they could go and get a higher salary. I think that is someplace that we have to continue to focus or we’re going to lose those good people. The other thing is just making sure that we are offering development paths or career opportunities for different roles, different placements, different projects, opportunities that will keep people engaged and feel like they’re growing in their career and in their progression within a company just because that feels like a much more positive relationship with a company than just sitting in a seat, doing the role that you’ve been doing for a few years, and then having somebody else come in that gets paid more than you do to do the same role.

Matt Alder (7m 46s):
Again, that’s been one of the big topics that everyone’s been talking about for the last 18 months. The growing importance of internal mobility, retaining the talent that you have, moving people around into opportunities, and being much more fluid about the talent within an organization. There’s lots of talk about it, but companies seem to be really struggling with it. Why is that and how should people be thinking about it to try and solve those problems?

Lisa Niesen (8m 16s):
I think historically, we’ve always thought about a pretty traditional career projection, right? You come in as a marketer, then you advance to a manager of marketing, and a director of marketing. We’ve thought in terms of pretty linear progression. It’s tough because we want to invest in development within our workforce, but the roles get fewer as you advance up the leadership pipeline as you progress in your career.

Lisa Niesen (8m 56s):
If you’re developing a whole group of managers, for example, is the expectation then that they all get promoted? What happens when you get to the end of a development journey? Is there an expectation of the next level? That’s not realistic within companies. There are not that many roles. I think we’re seeing a shift in how do we continue to allow people to grow in their careers and then maybe match them to different opportunities that we would never expect maybe they would have the skillset for so good to be able to look at what’s the skills, behaviors, and the personality traits that come with different roles and try to figure out how we can match people and engage them in a different way.

Matt Alder (9m 52s):
I suppose, building on that, what role is there for technology and what role is there for assessment in all of this?

Lisa Niesen (10m 1s):
Yes, that’s a great question. SHL is really focused on the investment in technology in this space. As of late, we’re doing some great innovation there. Being able to take somebody’s assessment or other insights, their skills that we can gather within our mobilized platform and then take role profiles or different insights that will allow clients to measure people against various roles, different opportunities so you can almost have an interactive fluid way of aligning people, or at least having a view to where people can excel in roles within the organization.

Lisa Niesen (10m 57s):
That can be looking at what group of people that we’ve assessed have, for example, these five critical competencies that we know are critical to our business strategy and can carry that forward. It might be people that aren’t on our radar at this point so really taking the assessment and the insights we have about our people and some demographic data as well, and then aligning them to different opportunities and different roles within a company that you might not get that lens if you’re following a traditional path of taking an assessment for a specific role, seeing the gap that you have to that role, or maybe the next role in that linear chain and developing specific to that path, but looking more broadly across the entire organization and all the opportunities that there might be.

Matt Alder (11m 59s):
Obviously, the role of data is huge here. Do you think that HR, talent management, talent acquisition need to be better with data, need to be more aligned to really have that understanding of what’s going on in their workforces?

Lisa Niesen (12m 21s):
Absolutely. That’s a tough shift. We have typically focused on our people and nurturing our people. HR is about making sure that you’re managing your workforce, and historically, that’s been managing the people, but what we see emerging that is absolutely critical is how you are managing the data and the insights around those people. If you’re not doing that, you’re going to be left behind. I think it’s a whole new lens for what that means for HR and their role.

Lisa Niesen (13m 2s):
How do you build business partners and the capability there to be a strong force to help the organization see that? Really, the only way to have a clear lens to that in a way that’s nimble enough is through the data you can gather.

Matt Alder (13m 26s):
Have you seen evidence in the market of employers bringing talent acquisition and talent management closer together in practical terms?

Lisa Niesen (13m 36s):
Absolutely, we have clients. I was with a client just this week talking about how their entire Talent Acquisition process is the Talent Management suite of assessments. They will interview and address role-specific requirements through an interview or through a resume, but they want to assess and bring people into the organization based on the opportunities, the career pathing, the leadership potential, some of those agile characteristics that they know are going to be critical to their organization going forward.

Lisa Niesen (14m 22s):
It is becoming a much more seamless, very gray line, a blurred line between talent acquisition and talent management because it really becomes one overarching, holistic life cycle that we have to care about going forward.

Matt Alder (14m 40s):
I suppose that there still are lots and lots of companies who are working in silos, but have a desire to bring things close together, be more aligned, and more realistic about what they do. What would your advice be to those employers in terms of the things that they should be thinking about or the first steps that they should be taking?

Lisa Niesen (15m 2s):
That’s a good question. I think we all have a fiscal responsibility to do right by our organizations, right? How can you get the most out of your investments? From a Talent Acquisition perspective, if we are investing in a Talent Acquisition provider, to be able to show your organization that that investment carries over long-term into talent management opportunities and answers to questions that are going to arise. That is a win-win. Similarly, Talent Management want to know that they have the right people, the right data, the right information to carry those individuals forward being able to bring your partner to the table in those conversations.

Lisa Niesen (16m 1s):
If I’m a Talent Acquisition person and making sure my Talent Management partner is there to be able to sell and help the business understand, how to capitalize on those investments early on. That’s your perfect opportunity to show that you have the company’s best interest in mind. You’re thinking bigger and more holistically about talent so getting your partner a seat at the table alongside you. We’re seeing that more and more all the time.

Lisa Niesen (16m 40s):
Companies that are working in silos really are thinking too narrowly to accommodate the broader concerns that are surfacing with the entire employee population over time.

Matt Alder (16m 53s):
Final question, what do you think the future’s going to look like? If we’re having this conversation again in a couple of years time, what would we be talking about?

Lisa Niesen (17m 4s):
Boy, I think we just need to be so nimble. The business culture is just going at rapid pace. Everything is changing. We have to be flexible. We have to be ready to anticipate that next crisis, that next pandemic, or that next market crash. How do we do that and still feel like we can be successful? Really, if we’re not relying on data and the insights that help us flex and answer those questions and address those issues quickly, we are definitely going to be left behind

Matt Alder (17m 51s):
Lisa, thank you very much.

Lisa Niesen (17m 54s):
Thanks for having me, Matt. It’s been great. I look forward to another opportunity to connect.

Matt Alder (18m 2s):
My thanks to Lisa. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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